Tourism in Germany has massive economic potential. 6.2 million people are employed in this sector, with the German tourism industry generating more than 140 billion euros annually. Even the economic crisis has not dampened the Germans' wanderlust. One aspect has changed, however: demand for destinations within Germany has increased dramatically.
This trend offers good opportunities to make the German tourist regions fit for the future. In view of demographic change, a key issue for the future is barrier-free travel for people with disabilities or age-related conditions. The regions must also adapt to the impacts of climate change. What's more, many companies must adopt new marketing strategies in order to remain competitive. We want to support small and medium-sized companies in particular.
Tourism – more than any other industry – depends on an intact environment. Litter, contaminated landscapes, air pollution and deforestation will not attract anyone. A structural change towards an ecologically sustainable economic policy therefore benefits the environment, not only in the tourist regions. What's more, people who enjoy travel are generally keen to find out about local and regional culture, driving up demand for regional products. This stimulates regional economic cycles, which not only benefits the tourism industry.
We see ourselves as a catalyst and political partner at a time of structural change. In order to utilise the opportunities that "gentle" tourism affords, these are our priorities:
- to improve Germany's image as a tourist destination and make its tourism regions more appealing to young and old, thus opening up new markets,
- to support the provision of IT training for the hospitality industry, in order to improve the Internet presence of smaller regional companies,
- to create a quality seal for low-carbon travel. This is an important starting point in putting an end to inflationary trends and increasing, rather than decreasing, quality standards,
- to make child and youth travel available to all groups in society. Environmental and language education, along with cultural exchange, are key aspects of a sustainable society and also help to promote international understanding,
- to promote nature parks and national parks as attractive tourist destinations. Ecotourism should not take place at the expense of the environment, but should aim to sensitise as many people as possible to ecology and sustainable development,
- to improve the status of cycle tourism as an economically attractive segment. We want to improve the provision of services for cycle tourism and cycling in Germany, e.g. through a better network of cycle tracks and more bike-friendly companies,
- to improve local public transport links to tourist sites. Rail travel must be more attractive, cheaper and more comfortable and convenient. For example, it should be possible to take bicycles on high-speed trains,
- to expand sports tourism, for this has many positive effects. Exercise promotes health, and team sports and joint training fulfil many important social and community functions,
- to promote hiking and rambling. This is a particularly sustainable form of tourism for rural regions. Hiking offers a direct experience of nature in all its forms. It also raises awareness of people's natural speed and the need for a "slower" society.
Rural regions are particularly suited to these forms of tourism. A farm holiday is not just about fun for families with children, however. In addition, it offers providers the opportunity to sell regional specialities and thus strengthens the local farm sector. A farmer who offers bed and breakfast accommodation can also tap into services that are designed to promote hiking and cycle tourism. Better availability of these services in rural regions could help to stimulate demand.
Camping is often viewed with amusement, and yet in the areas around nature parks, it makes sense and is very popular. Compared with its neighbour France, however, Germany has some ground to make up. For example, wine regions can tap additional economic potential if municipalities or vineyards provide camping facilities.
Consumer protection must keep pace with the improvement of the tourism offer in Germany. Technological innovations and Internet-based booking systems (dynamic packaging) have created regulatory gaps which we Greens want to close in order to give consumers the legal protection they need.